Disney’s newest animated feature, Tangled, is opening in movie theaters across the country Wednesday. Directed by Nathan Greno (Bolt, Meet the Robinsons) and Byron Howard (Bolt) and voiced by Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, Tangled is loosely based on the story of Rapunzel.
Tangled is Disney’s third foray into 3D animated films this year. Both Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 grossed over one billion dollars in theaters worldwide. Tangled is likely to gross significantly less and we can assume anything over 150 million domestically would be a windfall for the Walt Disney Company. To compare, How to Train Your Dragon grossed 217 million domestically and Megamind has grossed just over 100 million in about 2.5 weeks in theaters. The Princess and the Frog grossed just over 100 million dollars and was considered a box office disappointment, despite grossing 267 million dollars worldwide.
Many news outlets this morning were running an erroneous story about an interview with a Disney executive that indicated the company would not be making any more animated fairy tales. Of course this is not true and the quote was taken out of context. While Disney does not have any “princess movies” in the pipeline, fairy tales are a major aspect of their business. Several outlets also ran stories charging that Tangled has been significantly tinkered with since its inception because little girls are not a large enough demographic. Any parent of a little girl knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth. They cited the name change from Rapunzel to Tangled as proof that Disney was marketing the movie to a male demographic, in addition to the princess angle. While “Rapunzel” was once the working title for Tangled, that isn’t necessarily an indication that the film would actually be titled “Rapunzel.” Using the examples from before, Megamind was known as “Master Mind” and “Oobermind” before the title was changed to Megamind. How to Train Your Dragon was originally known simply as “Dragons.” Obviously, marketing movies to the widest possible audience is a smart decision and there’s nothing wrong with adding action and humor to a film. After all, girls like excitement and jokes too.
If Tangled is successful, we can expect similar movies to be made in the future. Disney is, after all, a publicly traded company interested solely in maximizing revenue and profit. They will make whatever movie the most people will consume. If you would like Disney to continue making highly rated animated fairy tales, you may want to venture down to your local movie megaplex and pay the $12+ per person theaters are charging for 3D movies these days.
Tangled is currently receiving excellent reviews. It currently has an 88% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 75 on Meta Critic. Those are higher scores than any other movie currently in theaters, including the new Harry Potter. I have not yet had an opportunity to see it myself, but the high scores and positive press are making me much more likely to see it over the weekend.